A private banker, caught up in Singapore's money laundering probe linked to 1Malaysia Development Bhd, was a key link between the embattled state investor, a Swiss private bank and a Malaysian businessman connected to the troubled fund.
Yak Yew Chee, a senior banker at Swiss-based BSI Singapore, has emerged for the first time as a key figure in Singapore's money laundering probe, according to documents released at Singapore High Court last week.
Yak was not personally at the Singapore High Court on Friday, when he sought to unfreeze his Singapore funds to pay taxes and legal fees. His lawyer agreed to withdraw the petition after the prosecutor raised no objection in allowing Yak to transfer 1.76 million Singapore dollars ($1.3 million) from his overseas bank accounts.
In an affidavit filed at the court, he denied any wrongdoing or getting unlawful benefits from managing the accounts of 1MDB or its affiliates.
Yak handled the lucrative 1MDB account after he joined Swiss private bank BSI in Singapore in 2009, a person who worked with him at the bank said. He was on unpaid leave for five months last year while BSI investigated him for alleged misconduct related to client accounts, the court documents say, but did not disclose details of the internal probe. Yak went back on BSI's payroll in October and was last paid his monthly salary of nearly S$83,000 on Jan 27, according to his court affidavit.
Singapore authorities are conducting a money laundering probe into bank accounts linked to 1MDB, whose activities have triggered legal action across three continents.
Some of the accounts Singapore is probing belong to Yak and have been frozen together with S$9.7 million of his funds, according to the court documents, the first to emerge from Singapore's probe into 1MDB announced last July. Malaysia said in March 2015 that 1MDB had transferred $1.1 billion from the Cayman Islands into BSI Singapore.
Yak did not respond to Reuters request for comments. BSI declined to comment.